Completing the journey to confirmation

37 adults receive the sacrament during special Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral

By Gabrielle Nolan

Every year, the Diocese of Knoxville holds a special Mass of confirmation for those adult Catholics who have been baptized and received their first Holy Communion but have not been confirmed.

There are a variety of reasons as to why children and young adults delay their confirmation, such as changing locations during their confirmation year, not feeling ready to receive the sacrament, or leaving the Church.

“It’s very common that people have fallen away from the Church,” said Deacon Jim Bello, director of Christian formation for the diocese.  “A lot of time as youngsters they receive their first Communion and then kind of fall away because their parents didn’t follow through with their formation.”

Diego Felipe Diego and Juana Miguel Pascual of Holy Ghost Parish in Knoxville show their confirmation certificates following the adult confirmation Mass on May 19 at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. (Photo Gabrielle Nolan)

“A lot of times we see people who just feel unworthy,” he continued. “I get a lot of comments like that from parishes—that they just don’t feel ready. We’ve catechized them well, they just don’t feel ready. And what I wish people would begin to understand is that we catechize, but we’re very dependent on the Holy Spirit to do His work in us. It’s not a matter of our worthiness. It’s a matter of our seeking to have the Holy Spirit give us His gifts so that we can become more and more worthy as we continue our faith journey.”

Courtney Sadowski, a parishioner at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Knoxville, grew up Catholic and was raised in the Church.

“I kind of came out from the Church, so the last few years I’ve been working on coming back to church, so that was something that was important to me,” she said. “I never went through confirmation as a child, so it was something I always knew I wanted to do as an adult.”

Ms. Sadowski’s chosen patron saint for confirmation was St. Maria Goretti.

“She’s the saint of forgiveness, so I felt like that’s something very important to me, to learn to forgive others and myself,” Ms. Sadowski shared.

Shawn Kegley, a parishioner of Holy Ghost in Knoxville, has been a practicing Catholic and attending Mass for 30 years.

“I was recently studying the Bible, and the Genesis chapters spoke to me about following God’s law and following the rules,” Mr. Kegley said. “I knew that I needed to do this piece to be confirmed and to light the fire in me to evangelize and be someone to go out into the world and be an example of our Catholic faith.”

Mr. Kegley acknowledged that he struggled with his experience of “spending 30 years in the Church without being confirmed.”

“To have that now is really incredible, so I hope that I am able to be an example and to help others to find the fullness in the sacraments,” he said.

He chose Pope St. John Paul II as his confirmation saint.

“I guess the key tenets of his message throughout his life was the dignity of life from conception to death, the evangelization and the constant pursuit of restoring and learning and becoming deeper in your faith, and those tenets just spoke to me in a way. They always have, and there’s no saint I could think of that fully encompassed my current position in life and the direction I’m trying to go,” Mr. Kegley shared.

Julio Tomas holds his certificate of confirmation after the diocesan-wide adult confirmation Mass on May 19 at Sacred Heart Cathedral. With Julio are his godparents. (Photo Gabrielle Nolan)

The confirmation Mass for adults took place at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Pentecost Sunday, May 19.

Because Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre, apostolic administrator for the diocese, was unable to attend the Mass due to other obligations, Father Doug Owens presided. Father Owens is the delegate to the apostolic administrator as well as pastor of All Saints Parish in Knoxville.

“I want to thank you all for being here today,” Father Owens said during his homily. “Thank you especially to those who have made the journey from different parts of the diocese. Also, I want to thank specifically your sponsors, your godparents, those who have made this journey with you. Your mothers and your fathers, your brothers and your sisters. You began this journey a long time ago, some of you longer than others, and the journey that you’ve made brought you to this place in this time. And as one of the letters from Paul says, there is a place and time for everything.”

Father Owens said that the apostles’ journey was “one of amazement and one of awe.”

“One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is called the fear of the Lord. Now in past years, they’ve stopped using that because it would scare people. They didn’t want to be fearful of the Lord, so now they call it awe. But to be in fear of the Lord is just to be in fear and respect and awe of something so powerful and something so grand and something so beautiful you can’t really understand it,” he said.

“So, when they were in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit descended upon them, the great thing that we celebrate today, it was the final act of the journey. God created us, and then God sent his Son down to be with us, and He was in all of His glory. He decided to become a man, a human being like us so that He could understand us and sympathize with us and empathize with us. And then, finally, the journey where the Holy Spirit is generated by the love of the Father to the Son, and the Son back to the Father descends upon the apostles and the disciples,” the pastor added.

Father David Boettner, rector of the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, confirms an adult member of the parish on April 21. Assisting Father Boettner is Deacon Fredy Vargas. (Photo Bill Brewer)

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord, and fortitude.

“Today I will be calling down the Holy Spirit upon our confirmandi, so that the confirmandi will be filled, those who will be confirmed will be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And as we heard and read in the Gospel, there are certain gifts that are given to us by the Holy Spirit,” Father Owens said. “It’s a gift that’s being given to you, and you already have particular gifts and charisms, talents, holy talents, that you possess that will make your life as a Christian, make your life as an active Catholic. You’ll be able to live it the way that God chooses for you to live it. It’s only up to us to say yes and to respond to the Holy Spirit.”

Father Owens anointed and confirmed 37 adults at the Mass.

“I know the Holy Spirit has been at work and watching our Church grow like this; I think that we can expect to see these people continuing to evangelize their friends and their family,” said Deacon Bello. “My hope is that the Holy Spirit will set these people confirmed today absolutely ablaze for Christ and start to bring others into the Church as well.”

On April 21, Sacred Heart Parish celebrated an adult confirmation Mass for its Hispanic members who were seeking the sacrament. Cathedral rector David Boettner served as the Mass celebrant.

Adults who are interested in being confirmed at next year’s diocesan adult confirmation Mass should check with their local parish for more information.

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